Peter Maiden: Bringing structure to a pioneering movement

24 Jul, 2017 | International
Rebecca Barnhart
Peter and Win Maiden (2004). George?s ?heir apparent? for 20 years, Peter Maiden became OM International Director in 2003, a role he held until 2013.
Throughout OM’s 60-year history, three men have led the movement: Founder George Verwer, Peter Maiden, and Lawrence Tong, the current leader. George’s ‘heir apparent’ for 20+ years, Peter Maiden became International Director in 2003, a role he held until 2013. OM talked with Peter and his wife, Win, about their 40+ years in OM, visiting nearly 100 countries, and the 10 years Peter served as OM’s International Director. Peter joined OM in 1973 as the United Kingdom director. “George asked me to come initially for a year,” Peter said, “and it’s certainly been a long year!”

OM: At what point did you know you would succeed George as the International Director?

Peter: I’d been the Associate International Director for close to 20 years. It was almost taken for granted because I had been working so closely with George. Still, there was a robust process to formalise my appointment, so I wasn’t sure until the final vote at the International Leaders Meetings (ILM) in 2002.

OM: What were your primary goals when taking over in August 2003? Did you feel you accomplished them?

Peter: It was a strange transition because, in my role as Associate, I’d been leading the ILM, the International Executive Committee (IEC) and the strategic planning process. I’d been part of forming those goals so, when I took over from George, it wasn’t an abrupt, ‘Let me pray and think through the goals.’ I was already doing it.

We were looking at integrated mission. We had been very strong on proclamation and wanted to keep that, but realised that in many parts of the world our ministry had to be to the whole person and community. As part of holistic mission, we were also looking at how a person’s gifting could be used in mission; we were looking at the use of sport, business, dance and more in our mission strategy. OM’s leadership had been very Western-dominated, and we were seeking to make the movement more comfortable for non-Western people to move into significant responsibility. We only took the first steps in this transition; Lawrence has carried that forward much further.

Another goal was developing the next generation of leaders. The Joshua Journey came out of that, as well as Leadership Matters and Leader as a Person training. We were also progressing from the pioneer movement—where George carried everything around in a bag—to developing the first International Director’s Accountability Group and having the first discussions on an international board. We became more decentralised as a field-led movement, with the areas having more involvement in decisions for their fields. We also focused on fund raising as a ministry and not as a painful necessity!

The key relationship for me was with George, and so it was incredibly important to maintain a good relationship with him and ensure that he felt honoured as the founder of the movement. I’m delighted with the way George is still comfortable in OM, and the movement feels comfortable with him.

OM: Many people probably felt they knew you well, since you were OM's leader for a decade. What would surprise people most about your time as International Director?

Peter: To some degree, I always felt a little unqualified in the role because I never lived long term in a cross-cultural situation. I stayed in Carlisle, UK, where Win and I are from. It provided incredible stability for the family, but also provided some shortcomings: When we talked about the integration of the Global South into mission, which was dominated by the West, I felt vulnerable because I hadn’t lived outside of my culture.

OM: What was the hardest trip you had to take?

Peter: After the Doulos bombing in the Philippines in 1991, I flew out with Dale Rhoton, visited the surviving victims and then went to the ship. I had to lead devotions and speak about suffering and God’s purpose in it. That was very challenging, very emotional.

Win: For me, it was going to an old Anglican church in Peshawar, Pakistan, and seeing plaques of the names of missionaries and their children who had died. It was humbling to see the reality of the sacrifices people had made.

OM: Nearly four years since handing the reigns to Lawrence Tong, what do you miss most and least about being OM’s International Director?

Peter: I definitely miss the depth of fellowship, particularly with the IEC and the senior team in Carlisle. But I don’t miss saying goodbye to the family and the constant travelling.

Win: All the separations and goodbyes when Peter had to leave for trips were hard on the family. I wasn’t part of a team and didn’t understand what OM was or why Peter was travelling. I went to a conference in Belgium [in the late ’70s] and then understood the big picture of OM and the purpose for Peter’s travel. As the years went by and I got to know OM, I loved OM and admired what everyone was doing. Now I miss friends all over the world.

[When asked what they’re enjoying the most about post-International Director life, they both agreed it was having more time together. “We love being together, after all these years,” Win said. “We revel in it.”]

OM: Win, what advice do you have for wives of mission leaders?

Win: Speaking as a wife and mother: Do the parenting, because you only get one shot at it. It’s not the ‘second best’ in ministry; parenting is the biggest job you’ll get to do.

OM: Are you in contact with George or Lawrence much? Is there some secret Three Musketeers group that only you, George and Lawrence can attend?

Peter: I’m in touch with George via email and see him at Special Projects meetings. Lawrence has been incredibly respectful in keeping in touch with me since he’s taken over, and I saw him in December 2016. The three of us were together in Bangkok at the ILM in 2017.

OM: How do you spend your time now?

Peter: I have a heavy load of teaching and preaching. My latest book, Building on the Rock, was published in summer 2016 and focuses on our identity in Christ as His sons and daughters. I’m also in a mentoring relationship with a few men, and I advise a number of Christian organisations.

OM: What is your prayer for OM as we mark this 60th anniversary?

Peter: I’m very encouraged with the direction that OM is taking. My prayer is that it will stay united, and the clear cutting edge that the Global Planning Process has brought to OM will be maintained.

Rebecca Barnhart served with OM as a writer and communications leader from 2001-2015, based in Hungary, Austria, England and the US. Currently working as a freelance writer/editor, she remains passionate about telling stories of what God is doing around the globe.

Credit: Rebecca Barnhart · © 2017 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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